Gabbard: To avoid war, the president needs to talk to NKorea

Updated: Oct. 17, 2017 at 4:44 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - President Trump should "engage directly" with North Korea's Kim Jong Un in order to resolve a worsening diplomatic crisis with the country, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said Tuesday on CNN.

She also said that the United States should do away with long-held conditions for those talks.

Gabbard, D-Hawaii, made the comments a day after North Korea's deputy U.N. ambassador warned that the situation on the Korean peninsula "has reached the touch-and-go point and a nuclear war may break out any moment."

North Korea and the United States have been engaged in increasingly heated rhetoric for months, and the president has at times said that attempting to negotiate with the rogue nation is a waste of time.

Despite that, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has continued to pursue a diplomatic resolution to the crisis and recently said on CNN that talks will continue "until the first bomb drops."

Tillerson has also said that he has direct lines of communication with North Korea.

On Tuesday, Gabbard said the nuclear threat from North Korea is "an existential one" for Hawaii, and she urged the president to start talks.

"One of the major reasons why these negotiations have failed in the past is because there have always been these pre-conditions set that have frankly been a fantasy. They have not been realistic," she said.

She continued, "To say for example that 'we will not negotiate or speak directly with North Korea until they get rid of their nuclear weapons program' is a fantasy because it points to the fact that we are not recognizing why North Korea's built this nuclear weapons program in the first place: To protect themselves from the threat of the United States of toppling their regimes."

Gabbard added, "If we understand that our history of interventionist regime change policies have brought North Korea to this place of holding onto nuclear weapons as the only deterrent against regime change, then we can begin to understand how important it is to have this direct conversation that could ultimately result in saving so many lives."

As tensions with North Korea have worsened, Hawaii became the first state in the nation to launch a campaign aimed at educating residents and visitors about the unlikely but not impossible threat of a nuclear attack.

Next month, Trump will stop in Hawaii before launching a tour of Asia. On the trip, he'll visit South Korea, and there's speculation that he might go to the DMZ, the demilitarized zone that separates the South from the North.

On Tuesday, U.S. Mazie Hirono said she hopes the president does make it to the DMZ.

"The more the president sees the reality of the situation and what the North Koreans have amassed on the boarder ... the more he deals with reality and is able to incorporate that into his decisions, the better all of us will be," said Hirono, D-Hawaii, during an interview on CNN.

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